Two young men were reportedly beaten up by the local union parishad chairman on Saturday after they had held a programme demanding a sustainable embankment at Padmapukur of Satkhira's Shyamnagar upazila.
One of the victims – Shahin Billah, a bachelor's degree student and son of Shahidul Islam of Patakhali village – said he along with the local residents had held a sit-in programme on the Yaas-affected embankment of Patakhali village on Friday.
Presenting themselves as symbolic corpses, they demanded that a sustainable embankment be constructed along the vulnerable coast. The programme was covered with great importance by the local and national media outlets, he said.
On Saturday morning, the locals were voluntarily repairing the damaged embankment in Patakhali village, in presence of Padmapukur Union Parishad Chairman Ataur Rahman and Bangladesh Water Development Board's (BWDB) Deputy Assistant Engineer Alamgir Kabir.
As Shahin went to the spot and prompted to lend a hand in the repair work, the duo confronted him and threatened to file a case against him as per direction of the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO).
"Why did you form human chain for building the dam? What is the need to do all these? You will be sued. The UNO directed to file a case against you," the union parishad chairman told Shahin.
At one stage, Ataur Rahman gave Shahin a good thrashing until the locals come forward to rescue him. The BWDB official reportedly abetted the assault.
When a fellow activist – Yasir Arafat, son of Jamat Ali Molla – asked the union parishad chairman about the assault, he also got beaten up right there.
Talking to the media, BWDB's Deputy Assistant Engineer Alamgir Kabir claimed that he was not involved in the assault.
"The union parishad chairman slapped them as they held the programme without informing him. Later, the programme went viral and put pressure on the chairman," said the BWDB official.
This correspondent could not reach the Padmapukur Union Parishad Chairman Ataur Rahman despite repeated attempts.
Shyamnagar Upazila Nirbahi Officer ANM Abu Jar Ghiffari said he had not directed anyone to file any case.
"It is fundamental right of the people to hold a human chain or carry out a programme to press home their demands. Why will I say to file lawsuit? If anyone says that, he is lying," he said, adding that he is looking into the incident.